The Intolerant Elite: How Distorted Narrative is Hurting India
India is hands down one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and I say this not just as a hunch, but also out of personal experience. There is no other country in this world that would celebrate diversity quiet the way India does. We have all the known and unknown religions in the world equally revered here, and linguistic and cultural diversity of this country is unparalleled anywhere in the world. Despite this diversity, people in India have lived in harmony for centuries and will continue to do so, in-spite of all the elite crying “intolerance” these days.
It is one thing to worry about the status of our nation, and quite another to deliberately spread malicious lies and unfounded rumors, scaring not only the citizens but also forming a negative opinion of India with the global community. The current “intolerance” narrative is a pure and simple ‘political rhetoric’ spread to malign the image of India and there by undermine the chances of India securing a Permanent seat in United Nations under the BJP government. Also the fact that crying ‘intolerance’ helped so called “secular” parties to win the Bihar elections was an additional bonus.
Here are the proofs.
The ‘intolerance’ narrative started with the murder of MM Kalburgi – a writer and “rationalist” from Karnataka on August 30, 2015. Earlier another ‘rationalist’ Narendra Dabholkar, from Maharastra had been similarly murdered on August 30, 2013 and Govinda Pansare on 20 February, 2015.
Three heinous murders happened, two Kalburgi and Dabholkar were killed when the state government is/was governed by Congress, and Pansare when the state government is governed by BJP. There were some outrages, of course at the time of those murders, but what made the “intellectual elites” to protest in October of 2015 against the murders that happened relatively much earlier?
The mainstream media in India have their biases and if it wasn’t for social media, even I was used to taking all their reports as gospel. The news fed by the mainstream media was pretty much a one sided flow of information, and we – the general public did not have the means to verify the information and venom they spewed. Thankfully post 2010 all that changed due to Twitter and Faecbook and now What’s App etc. Today people who know the facts surrounding certain cases do not need to wait for their version to be reported, they can report all the facts on their own via the social media, and that has left the mainstream media unnerved and at the same time exposed their lies and hypocrisy.
Let us run down each incidents of “intolerance” highlighted by the mainstream media and check it against facts.
Prior to the Delhi elections the mainstream media repeatedly reported attacks on churches – in less than a month in February media reported 6 church attacks – Dilshad Garden, Jasola, Rohini, Vikaspuri, Vasant Kunj and Vasant Vihar and created a sense of doom and gloom, and cried “intolerance.”
In fact if you compared the number of attacks on all religious institutions, Mandirs had been more vandalized, yet no one cried “intolerance” then
Around the same time the “minorities under attack” narrative was in full display when a 71 year old nun Sister Mary was raped in Kolkata. The main stream media once again went on overdrive and protests erupted all across the nation against “intolerance.” Even the Archbishop of Kolkata blamed Modi government in Center for a crime that happened in West Bengal.
A vocal champion of “minority rights” in India and ‘journalist’ Rana Ayyub wrote this scathing piece blaming everyone PM Modi, Subramanian Swamy, RSS, BJP and ‘Hindutva’ for the heinous crime.
However when truth emerged that it was actually a crime perpetrated by Bangladeshis Bangladeshis who had nothing to do with Hinduism, none of the mainstream media including Ms. Rana Ayyub had the decency to extend an apology to their readers
This is how the narrative that “minorities are under attack since Modi took power” has been built and rebuilt.
I do not support any form of state sanctions, it is the fundamental right of every individual to eat what they want to, dress how they feel like and express themselves in any way they deem fit. I find banning beef or any other food for that matter idiotic. The constitution of India, however explicitly states under Article 48 that, “the State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and PROHIBITING THE SLAUGHTER, OF COWS AND CALVES AND OTHER MILCH AND DRAUGHT CATTLE.”
This puts the ball in the courts of the respective state governments. According to a BBC report BBC report “in India 19 states and six union territories ban the slaughter of cows… [e]leven states and two union territories ban slaughter of cows, calves, bulls and bullocks.” These bans have been in place for decades, yet the outrage only happened following Maharastra and Haryana imposed similar bans.
I guess the outraged was justified; an Evangelical pastor Reverend Dr. Enos Das Pradhan wanted to organize a beef festival in Darjeeling, and so did Mr. Jyoti Mukhia who was earlier with World Vision (an evangelical organization).
I do not mind outrage over government banning food, however it is the selective outrage that I have problem with. Those crying foul over beef ban in Maharashtra have remained quiet over beef ban elsewhere, all this while, and majority of these bans were put in place by respective Congress governments.
The ban on beef controversy got further impetus with ban on meat consumption during a Jain festival in some of the Municipalities of Maharashtra, with Shiv Sena and MNS protesting by cooking meat outside Jain temples.
Later it emerged that the meat bans during Jain festival had been imposed since 1964 by the then Congress led board and upheld by municipal resolution in 1994 and 2004 (again Congress), there was no apology or regret issued over over-blowing the issue.
Stakes were very high during Bihar elections and one of the key factors is the minorities, which includes Muslims and Dalits. The mainstream media went on overdrive with two incidents – Dadri where a 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq was “allegedly lynched for eating beef.” The entire country outraged and mainstream media fed to this frenzy with headlines such as these.
However, a few days ago, it emerged that the Dadri incident might have had nothing to do with beef or religion, rather it could have been a personal grudge which led to Mohammad Akhlaq’s murder, which had been given Communal Colours
Once again, the mainstream media and all those shouting “intolerance” or “minorities under attack” have remained quiet and have not issued any apology.
Another news that made headlines was the “alleged” killing of two Dalit children who were burned to death by upper caste Rajputs in Sunpedh, a village in Faridabad near Delhi. Once again the media went on overdrive and claimed “intolerance.”
Only recently it has emerged that the fire had actually started from inside the house and not outside.
No one debating on TV, claiming ‘intolerance’ against minorities have come forward to apologize for this misplaced outrage on this issue yet.
This brings us to the final part of the sham and manufactured outrage on so called “intolerance” in our country. As I have stated above out of the three murders, two happened under Congress and one under BJP, however Nayantara Sahgal the niece of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru (obvious Congress connection) started this whole trend of returning awards – Award Wapsi – as a means of protesting against murders that had taken place a while back, she squarely blamed “Hindutva” (without any proof) for the murder, and at stake was Bihar elections.
Outrage over the murder of an eminent writer like Kalburgi does deserve outrage and condemnation, yet why did Nayantara chose to blame “Hindutva,” instead of questioning the current Karnataka government (run by Congress) on why they chose to remove his security cover?
Following Nayantara, 34 writers of various hues and cries and directors returned their award. But as most people active on twitter had expected, all the Award Wapsi drama ended the day Bihar election results were declared.
How did India go on to become tolerant overnight?
Now, Mr. Aamir Khan said, “I am alarmed, my wife suggested moving out of India” indicating how intolerant India has become. There are two issues, 1. Ms Kiran Rao who is the wife of Aamir Khan has every right to her opinion, and if they feel so threatened they are more than welcome to leave. 2. While Ms. Rao and Mr. Khan feel threatened in India due to rising ‘intolerance,’ here is what the wife of recently Martyred Col. Santosh Mahadik…
India is one of the most beautiful, diverse and tolerant countries in the world, and the fact is that instances of communal riots have come down since Modi government took over.
However, there is a concentrated efforts to undermine the current government, at the peril of our country.
We can chose to believe what we want to, however we should not allow people with vested interests to weaken the core strength of our country i.e. UNITY IN DIVERSITY
Upendra M Pradhan writes the column Voice of Darjeeling for www.darjeelingtimes.com and is editor at large at The Darjeeling Chronicle.